The Pirates senior says his added muscle will aid him on the basketball court
There is basketball strength, and then there is football strength.
Braden River High senior power forward D’Angelo Antonino learned that lesson this fall. The 6-foot-3 forward, a standout on the boys basketball team last season, decided to try his hand at football.
It was not his first time. Antonino played both sports as an underclassman, but suffered a knee injury during a football game as a sophomore at Bandera High in Bandera, Texas.
After moving to Braden River before his junior year, Antonino decided to give up the gridiron and focus his attention on basketball, where he would have less risk of suffering a serious injury.
When his senior year rolled around, though, Antonino decided to “push all [his] chips into the pot” for one last go-round. a tight end, he was used mainly as a blocker. Antonino said that experience impacted him beyond the football field. Seeing how football coach Curt Bradley ran his program, and how the leaders of that team acted in the locker room, inspired Antonino to bring lessons from that to the basketball program.
“Football is traditionally more of a team sport [than basketball],” said Antonino, one of three senior basketball captains. “I want us to have the same chemistry and discipline the football team had. I am going to be a vocal guy. Last year, focus was an issue for us sometimes. We have to get that locked down this year. If someone is messing around during practice, I am the one who will put a stop to that.”
Antonino said a key to his basketball season will be the strength he added going through the football team’s workout program. Coming to Braden River from Bandera last year, he said he wasn't in the best shape to start last basketball season. He still led the Pirates with 12.6 points per game, plus six rebounds per game. This year, he said he is in midseason form already. In a 60-53 win against East Bay High on Nov. 22, a neutral site game held at Palmetto High, Antonino had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Braden River coach Jason Mickan said he expects Antonino to eclipse his numbers from a year ago thanks to the work he has done during the offseason.
“I am an undersized post guy, but I can finish,” Antonino said. “I can work in space on a pick and pop and hurt you.”
Antonino said he believes the leadership from him and fellow senior captains Kamron Brooks and Evan Smalls will get the Pirates to the postseason. Brooks, a guard, is a pure scorer, Antonino said, and one of the most unheralded players around. Brooks had 22 points in the win against East Bay. Smalls, a wing, didn’t play much last year thanks to players in front of him, but has eight points and six rebounds against East Bay.
The Pirates also have sophomore point guard Karmani Gregory, who Antonino said has the potential to light up the scoreboard on a given night. Gregory flashed that potential a few times as a freshman in 2018-2019, especially in notching 21 points and seven assists in a 63-49 win against Saint Stephen’s Episcopal last December.